There’s a really useful source for historical digital art information. This is run by Terrance Masson who has 25 years of production experience. His work includes Star Wars movie CGI, interactive SimCity4, and award-winning short animated films such as Bunkie & Booboo. He also made the computer graphics pipeline for SouthPark.
I met Patryk at the recent 8-bit exhibition in Leicester. He is a prolific recordist in live settings such as parks or old buildings. He suggested doing a concert in the Lightbox gallery space at LCB Depot. The excellent result is below.
Etalon Production – Air, Pressure and Tension | Less Solid Dialect (vol.4) 2021 | PATRYK JAWORSKI
Micro Arts exhibition at the LCB Depot, 31 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RE until Saturday 26 June 2021. Curated by Sean Clark of the Computer Arts Archive & Computer Arts Society, UK.
Geoff doing a talk 9/6/2021 at the 8-bit Micro Arts Exhibition Leicester 2021. Images from MA1 (Lines) and MA2 (Studio) on display.
This big show had image stills from most of Geoff Davis‘s work from the MA1 “Abstract Originals” release, plus some from MA2 Various Unusual Events along with Martin Rootes MA3 release. There was a page from Geoff’s MA4 Story Generator.
There was a real time live run of the MA1 algorhythmic art, which means the 1980s code was providing live ambient art, as intended in the notes for the original data cassette.
There were displays of the artefacts like data cassettes and deck, and the Micro Arts Magazine. See the navigation here for more details of the MA releases, and the videos etc.
Lots of photos below, and more on a link at the bottom.
Plus two 8-bit micro controlled installations are in the exhibition, an interactive audio piece from Virtual Ground and a visual sculpture by Sean Clark, both of which used 8-bit micro controllers. Please note the MA1 art was 4-bit. The spectrum colour system is quite limited, so extra creativity was required, see Spectrum Graphic Modes Wiki
Photo credits: Sean Clark
All photo credits in the set below (covering set up and talks): Sean Clark
Join the artists for the launch of the show and as part of the of the 8-bit exhibition, short talks from Micro Arts founder Geoff Davis and exhibition curator Sean Clark from the Computer Arts Archive. You will need to wear a facemask in the gallery. Talks start at 7pm. Grays Cafe Bar will be open for drinks in the courtyard.
This came up at the Leicester 8bit exhibition. I was chatting to a musician (there was an audio installation from Virtual State), and he wondered if data cassettes were CD quality.
A data cassette is a stream of information, encoded as beeps, which are bits in on/off mode, this is then much speeded up to fit on a tape. So the audio is just zeroes and ones. This is read by an audio decoder in the micro, to convert the audio beeps back into bits.
This was also how micro programmers worked, saving to tape. This was not a pro game shop, I just started up Micro Arts at home in Clapham.
Older readers will recall the noisy screech of modems. Even older readers will remember these tapes and the tape decks.
However, the cassettes last a long time, when I opened the cardboard box in which stored Micro Arts materials, around 2019, all the tapes loaded perfectly into a PC Spectrum emulator. Apparently, as I moved about a lot (I’ve lived in many places), the oxide doesn’t get settled, so they are more reliable. That’s weird. Pretty long term when you think about it.
There are 2+1 exhibitions next year , two for Micro Arts (London and Leicester with Sean Clark) and a show of new AI based work (London UAL, tbc). There is a paper by Sean Clark on Micro Arts in the EVA London conference in summer 2021.
Audio cassette tape inventor Lou Ottens dies aged 94.
Micro Arts distributed computer art via data cassettes, which were ordinary audio tapes with data bits recorded on them as sound (familiar amongst older readers as the screechy sound made by old modems). These were professionally copied on short (5 minute) tapes, then printed inserts added, with information about the contents.
The cassette was developed by Lou Ottens at Philips and released in 1963. It was a huge popular success compared to high-end reel tape, although at a lower quality, a bit like MP3 encoding of audio files. Huge increase in portability and much lower costs.
Led to proliferation of cassette decks of all qualities from small portables (Walkman etc.) to hifi separates with excellent sound. Music fans often bought a vinyl LP, recorded to cassette, then stored the LP and used the tape for play. Could also be used in the car.
100 billion cassettes made since the 1960s. Not very sustainable!
They are having a revival in the indie music scene (eg Bandcamp, SoundCloud) as a physical format to go with a download, as much cheaper than a vinyl LP, and easier to make in small, even hand made, runs.
There was a big cassette bootleg culture, as well as friends copying LPs, and mix tapes, which led to the music industry’s promotion of the Home Taping is Killing Music campaign – of course the opposite was true.